Backseat Genealogy



For many years as we were raising our unconventional family, we spent an inordinate amount of time commuting from various rural homes to schools and workplaces in town. To keep themselves occupied on these daily commutes (plus other excursions) our heirs entertained themselves with various exercises, of which their favorite was family roots.


We had always celebrated our individual heritages of Native blood (derived from four of the five of us being adopted) and they gleefully embraced this information.


Sitting in the front seats, my husband I gloried in the information coming from our three offspring in the backseat, which followed a predictable narrative:


“Daddy is part Cherokee and part Sioux.

Avram is half Chippewa (which wasn’t actually true, but we had been given so little genealogy information that we were sometimes forced to speculate).

Murray is thirteen sixteenths Sioux (also not true; eventually we were able to confirm that he is fifteen sixteenths Dakota).

and Lorna is half Lakota (actually accurate).

And - my favorite part - Mommy isn’t anything, but she can’t help it!”


I was always grateful that my lack of Native blood was not regarded as a character flaw, but merely an accident of birth.


As a historian I was chagrined at how much of our adopted children’s genealogy was withheld from us, but as each of them reached the legal age of 18, the truth was gradually revealed, and actually had a very minimal affect on our family relationships.


We are still Mom, Dad, brothers and sister - and remain so to this day.